How to Squeeze the Humanities 101: The Case of Mark Bauerlein

(Crossposted at Arcade.) Mark Bauerlein--author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) and Literary Theory: An Autopsy--recently released a widely discussed study called "Literary Research: Cost and Impacts" for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. This short study concludes that [...]

Biological Universals as Authenticity, or, What’s the Matter with Steven Pinker?

(Crossposted at Arcade.) In a fascinating parable, "A Story In Two Parts, With An Ending Yet To Be Written," posted on the National Humanities Center's On the Human Web site, Paula Moya tells the tale of a researcher named Kitayama who travels from the land of Interdependence to the land of Independence, conducts research into [...]

The End of Ideology (Critique)?

(Crossposted at Arcade.) I. In The Sublime Object of Ideology, Slavoj Žižek famously lays out his analysis of claims that we* find ourselves in a postideological age. Žižek doesn't exactly mean "postideological" in the sense of Daniel Bell or Francis Fukuyama. For Bell or Fukuyama, postideology is characterized by the rise of technocracy, the transformation of [...]

13 Ways of Looking at “Pac-Man”

(Crossposted at Arcade.) January was apparently Andrew Ross month over at Dissent.  Two articles, Jeffrey J. Williams's "How to be an Intellectual: The Cases of Richard Rorty and Andrew Ross" (in the Winter 2011 issue of the magazine) and Kevin Mattson's "Cult Stud Mugged" (an online original), track Ross's evolution from a so-called cult-stud into someone [...]

The Postironic Art of Charlie Kaufman

(Crossposted from Arcade.) I'd like to point my loyal readers to the amazing introduction Charlie Kaufman wrote for Synecdoche, New York: The Shooting Script, which is available over at The Rumpus. I would summarize the introduction and analyze it -- I am almost unable to resist the temptation -- but to do so would ruin the [...]

Infinite Summer and New Models of Online Scholarship

(Crossposted at Arcade.) I'd like to use my bloggy pulpit to draw your attention to a draft of Kathleen Fitzpatrick's essay, "Infinite Summer: Reading the Social Network," which discusses the origin and signifiance of an online effort to read Infinite Jest the summer after David Foster Wallace's suicide. This essay is destined to become part [...]

Zadie Smith, Facebook, and the Game Layer

(Crossposted at Arcade.) In the New York Review of Books, Zadie Smith has written an interesting review of Aaron Sorkin's The Social Network that doubles as a critique of Facebook.  Smith rhetorically positions herself as a sort of luddite or dinosaur, a defender of what she calls "Person 1.0" against the debasements wrought upon -- [...]